Wide Open Agriculture’s (ASX: WOA) plant-based lupin protein strategy is looking even more promising after preliminary results show it has retained its nutritional quality and can be used in multiple food and beverage products.
Previously, using lupin as a protein in the ever-growing plant-based market has posed a challenge due to its texture and capacity and gelling and thickening.
Wide Open has developed technology to overcome these barriers with early analysis showing functional benefits that include gelling, dispersibility and wettability.
Latest tests have also confirmed it retains its “nutritional quality” of the source protein during the production process.
Additionally, the production process did not destroy any essential amino acids with lupin’s nine essential amino acids available at desirable levels.
No chemical residues were found, while microbial counts and alkaloid levels were well below maximum permitted levels. These characteristics combined with the above make Wide Open’s lupin product samples meet food grade accreditation.
Wide Open chief executive officer Ben Cole said the laboratory results were “extremely encouraging” and provide an “excellent foundation to continue rapidly working towards proof-of-concept food and drink products with our patented lupin protein”.
Protein content comparable to other commercially available sources
According to Wide Open, analysis has revealed a protein content of 76% can be achieved.
Its modified lupin samples possess comparable or higher protein levels than commercially available protein concentrates from other plant sources.
The protein content and gelling, dispersibility and wettability of Wide Open’s product make it suitable for plant-based meat alternatives, high protein noodles, protein-enriched plant-based milks and egg white replacer.
With less than 4% of Australia’s Sweet Lupin used for human consumption, Wide Open noted its technology unlocks lupin’s commercial potential as a sustainable food source.
Food matrices research indicates Wide Open’s lupin protein can be used as an instantly soluble dairy replacement for hot drinks and as a high protein ingredient in cold liquid nutrition and sports shakes.
It can also be texturised to resemble yoghurt or soft cheese.
Commercialisation of lupin protein
Wide Open will undertake further sensory and taste testing of its lupin protein.
This will be followed by developing proof-of-concept food and drink products containing the material.
The company’s next step will be secure supply agreements with established plant-based protein brands offering its lupin protein as an ingredient with “outstanding environmental credentials” and “unique techno-functionality”.
Wide Open also plans to develop and market its own products containing its lupin protein. These will be sold through its Dirty Clean Food brand.
Plant-based market growth
Wide Open estimates the plant-based protein market will reach US$15.6 billion by 2026. The plant-based protein supplement industry is anticipated to reach US$36 billion in 2028.
Other markets include plant-based meat, which is predicted to hit US$28 billion by 2025, while non-dairy milk is forecast to be valued at US$38 billion in 2024.
The plant-based snack sector is anticipated to grow to US$73 billion by 2028 and egg alternatives increase to US$1.6 billion by 2025.